Break the Stick: Rules and Wild Ideas

In the course of creating Spillian, I’ve found myself regularly chanting particular ideas like a mantra – an idea about whatever it was we were trying to make happen at that time and how to handle its complexities. These burbled up from somewhere, maybe from my toes, maybe from the ground I was standing on, maybe these incredible stone mountains we’ve landed on. Going after crazy wild ideas often isn’t easy.

So I would hold this idea, whatever it was – a lesson, a plan of attack, a way to approach a problem, a bit of silliness – to me from anywhere from a week to a month, until another one would emerge. And depending upon what it was, I would use it as a cloak. Or a tool. Or a weapon. Even, sometimes, a solace. Sometimes I’d just hug the idea to myself, and sometimes I would use it with the other people around me, whether that was any one of the number of other people we were dealing with, from contractors, to engineers, to bureaucrats, to bankers, to vendors…all of whom had their own needs and their own agendas. And none (well, most) of whom had no malice, but often they didn’t have, certainly, the kind of vision and commitment that we had, because it wasn’t their dream. They were always answering what they needed to answer to. That’s what we all do.

When A Realization Becomes a “Rule”

These “rules” (note the quotation marks) are the ideas that I chose to live by, and work through, and became ways that I could keep going on when things seemed truly impossible. I could find a pattern in things and make enough sense in things to feel like I could find a solution, rather than just being overwhelmed with whatever the latest challenge or problem was. This pattern of insight would become the rule for the week, or the month…

So I’ll be sharing the “rules” that I’ve been discovering.  Thoughts, ideas, strategies, things to break if it means that you need to shatter something to break out of and away from the straight line that is limiting what you’re imagining.

Grab the ones that have meaning for you, and make them your own. The ones that don’t? Ignore them. They may never have meaning to you, or six months down the road, you might think, “oh, wow, this could be helpful right now.” And that would be just totally cool.

And hopefully they’ll spur your awareness of your own.

Here’s the first rule, to get us started.

Rule Number One: There are No Rules

When you’re creating something, everything is a guidepost,  and, ultimately, everything is a possibility.

That said, some days it feels like everything is an almost-insurmountable challenge to overcome. But here’s the magic secret that I keep discovering: beyond the basic the laws of physics, there is never one way, really, to do anything. There are always different ways to approach problems.

The dreams of our sleep get this. (And are rather wonderfully not bound even by physics.) To dream something into being when our eyes are open takes, I find, a willingness to play against what the world insists “this is how all things are done.”

A rule, in its earliest etymological roots, is a straight stick. Sometimes you need to bend the stick, and sometimes you’ve got to break it. Maybe into little bits. And then burn it. Or give it to your dog to chew.

Do you have patterns you’ve discovered to help you break the rules? How do you break the stick? Share them in the comments if you’d like. I’d love to hear what has worked for you.


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